Beyond Email Newsletter Templates

Let’s talk about engagement beyond the inbox. Creative template design is important, but it’s true content marketing performance result is getting our recipient subscriber/member attention to engage the full content of our periodic newsletter edition.

The best association email template creates anticipation for the reader to continue to the full content with a click that moves them outside the email client inbox.

Engagement Beyond the Inbox

TLDR; We’ve been doing email templates all wrong. Instead of stuffing them full of content, focus should be on making the email’s one objective; getting the subscriber to click and view the full online edition. A premium digital newsletter takes member association marketing to a new level of capabilities & results.

Key Sections Below:
– Printed Newsletters are Dead
– The Problem with Inbox Emails
– Newsletter Revenue Strategy
– Audience Engagement
– Audio and Video Enhancements

Engagement beyond the inbox illustration
Old printer illustration

Newsletter Printers = Outdated Deliver Formats

As printing and paper based newsletters are a thing of the past, it’s time to reward readers with online newsletters that work instantly with one click from the email. Web based newsletters transition the old printing and mailing delays and cost out of the picture. PDF conversion to web or downloadable newsletters also demonstrates the company is operating with old media formats. Let’s dig in and talk about modern graphic design for important organizational and corporate marketing publications.

Fully Hosted Responsive Newsletter Edition

Today’s digital newsletter publications must deliver value beyond a beautiful email. The inbox email is only the gateway to the full newsletter publication.

Mobile devices and even some desktop email apps can’t deliver enough information in a single email template and content is even becoming truncated by some providers. So even the perfect news template isn’t capable of a design to achieve the real goal of reader engagement. Content marketing professionals rely on email to reach the subscriber but we then must engage with content for long term value.

Corporate marketing, periodical publishers and association media professionals know that first impressions and the email template design is still important for branding the overall communication interest.

However, the email’s purpose should be to get people out of the inbox and on to the full content. And that’s not just dropping people into website articles. The website is a single content item destination. After reading the single CMS new or article it’s up to the reader to determine what’s next – or most likely to end the browser and go back to the email. Maybe they scan the email for one more item of interest or they continue on to the other dozens of emails in the promotions or updates section of the inbox. That’s not the full content or storytelling experience with the periodic newsletter as a fully read media engagement that we want. A fully design hosted digital newsletter publication is the only way to achieve full content immersion engagement.

Digital Newsletter Illustration

How do we craft an email that actually commands full attention of our audience?

Audience and customer conversion illustration

Email Conversion to the Full Newsletter

We must get the funnel correct:

1) The inbox email templating
2) The clickthrough to full digital newsletter

The inbox email must be short and sweet and just get the subscriber to convert to the full digital newsletter publication.

We will discuss premium digital newsletter platform options after first reviewing the email problem and modern email objectives

We all want creative and beautiful newsletter templates because we assume that a modern design is our key to “attention getting engagement” that will actually entice our readers to read the news. However, for true engagement the email newsletter templating is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of gaining a newsletter reader who actually reads the content created.

The modern newsletter for corporate publishing, special interest group, or association publishing digital publication requires a premium newsletter strategy and design solution. 98% of membership CMS automated newsletters aren’t designed to achieve the number one email priority, “Get the reader to click to view the entire newsletter outside the cluttered inbox.”

Upgrading From Templated Design

A premium designed and not templated newsletter means the association media publishing professionals are gathering the best content for the newsletter and not limiting their art and creative assets. Leave that to the custom editorial and advertising design of the newsletter publication. An unlimited configuration of design templates are created for every newsletter to provide readers elements of movement and engagement including video embeds inside these newsletters or many additional and larger illustrations and photos.

Readers should not have to download PDF files or use older flipping page tools. A PDF newsletter is not easily read on mobile devices. As for the flip page newsstands, the publisher is sending their audience to a 3rd party with ads that don’t produce revenue for the publisher. And the publication deliverable is not branded to the publisher domain in addition to losing control of the subscriber. Delivering content on a flip the page and pinch and zoom required to read format is not providing an amazing UX to your valuable audience. They won’t be clicking to read the next issue. We do make one exception, and this is for content discovery. Remove the key feature article from the PDF to be uploaded to Issuu or a similar alternative. Replace those pages with the URL to your premium editions. All other ads and category openers can remain in the issue but the top feature stories are replaced with an internal ad page telling the visitor where to access the full edition. And never link to these versions as a secondary platform option. Only receive audience in from visitors that are discovering your publication from these generic newsletter and magazine newsstands.

Illustration of two people climbing colored bars
Digital illustration of character creating newsletter

Premium Newsletter Templates

Even the best responsive templates must be designed by digital media professionals. Even the most beautiful email newsletters feel templated when editorial design by graphic articles and art direction for the engagement are absent. While the html responsive templates that drove content marketing in past years, today’s email subscriber will quickly opt-out of generic builder or CMS generated tile layouts. A email template alone that’s sent from a vendor like mailchimp, Vertical Response, Constant Contact or a host of other email platform delivery providers doesn’t make sense for true content marketing operations in 2020 and beyond. Let’s get the Email trigger email and template right too! Many people make the mistake of focusing on the wrong type of email template because they seek a design to carry everything (news, announcements, content, advertising) all inside the email within the inbox. Automated template generators and drag and drop design tools made the newsletter design faster but keep our association media professionals working on templates inside the inbox and a fully contained and hosted email newsletter.

Hosted Send Platform Versions

Most email marketing platforms today automatically provide an archived version of the email on their (the newsletter platforms generic url) which is automatically created for the “can’t read this email – click here to read online” version. This isn’t a self contained newsletter unless the entire content was populated in the original newsletter design tool. All the long term value of this content is lost. And it’s not even branded or typically set for proper SEO and reference value back to the organization website.

Since these version can’t be edited, and mistakes or problems live in the archive. The premium editions we provide are continuously edited and if you send out your email and facts or content changes, it can be modified before readers even open the email.

Illustration depicting a hosted newsletter email platform

About Email Send Platform Online Archives

If you are using this type of platform tool and upgrade to PublishDigital premium editions, you can keep the existing newsletters and be confident that the new email provider online edition will be a single link to your premium branded editions now hosted on your domain.

Association Startups

Association startups depend on complete turnkey solutions that work. They also have the opportunity to show an innovative foot forward on the older association media systems. So manu older email newsletter software platform tools have that same old newspaper layout and look. They are dated and old and every link takes the reader to a website article instead of a fully contained email newsletter user expereince. Starting a new newsletter has it’s advantages.

Print Newsletters Templates

Is the Newsletter also Printed and Mailed?

Some associations are focused on going green or other progressive initiatives to demonstrate proactive leadership and action toward protecting our environment. The digital publication can be presented as a featured option for all subscribers. And encouraging members to choose this option as not only good for our environment but it’s also a more convenient and accessible method of always having the current and prior (perhaps they missed reading last week’s update) newsletter issues a tap away on their devices or computer.

When you upgrade to our full service digital newsletters, just make the request for a one page print mail version OR a custom postcard with online newsletter QR code and featured story as a way to make sure those subscribers one checking their mailbox will now know to click the newsletter link in their email.

Links to all issues can be staged for members only or in a public showing page. Each association newsletter digital platform is configured to meet your needs and fully maintained and updated.

Newsletter Template Performance

Still under a 50% open rate, and engagement at 10% of those opens. We know the upgrade to digital publications can do better than finding a new template every 6 months for our customers.

A Premium Newsletter Delivers Better Metrics

As we ask the publishing team member working on email template designs to step back and look at the bigger newsletter performance we see that there’s a clear need to change focus. Looking at that low open rate. Or, maybe your open rate is over 40% and this fact is masking your horrible email creatives.

Regardless of the template foundation:
– Association newsletter templates,
– Group or association magazine template
– Organization email for brochures or PDFs
– Corporate email communication templates
– Marketing or sales templates
– Event announcement templates

What do all these email newsletter have in common? They are the top things every one of your competitors is using to deliver the entire message in a single custom template. Even with the best analytics, we only know if the template worked for engagement if we get a signup or registration. This is typically 1% conversion vs the black hole start of 35% that opened our email. If we’re checking to see story link clickthrough, we do the facepalm when we realize that of the 8% of clickthroughs – they clicked less than 25 percent of the content we prepared.

All platform email templates should clearly focus on a headline story in a responsive format with a big “View Edition or Read This Weeks Edition” button. This is how we track who actually read the newsletter and can perform email list segmentation to those that didn’t.

The Problem with Email

Laptop with cluttered mail and spam written on it

Modern Email Newsletters Must Evolve into Full Digital Publications

The Email is only the Gateway to Content

The inbox today offers publishers about 2 seconds to capture the attention of the subscriber with a short top of inbox view subject line and preview of the email. The more news, articles, or featured content crammed into one email deters the recipient from engagement based on not delivering the modern content experience they can get from a full digital publication.

Another problem with email based newsletters, integrated newsletter builders, cut and paste templates and even those newsletter emails automatically developed based on the association management system (AMS) platform is that every news item is a separate dead end link. The reader clicks a link and goes to a webstie article and must start the whole process over with the next story. This routine get’s old very quick and it’s why most readers consume less that 2 articles when they engage the email at all. The newsletter platform solution or Email Template API integration is generating the news and articles from the membership or general CMS. This means that ever link from the inbox email client delivers the user to a separate website article. And while the emails may be archived and sequenced based on scheduled and past send dates, they never achieve the modern email strategy of taking a user to a full edition experience.

In other organizations, the email is a crafted by hand designed email newsletter stuffed with all the news and links to replicate the front page of a newspaper website of the last decade. More is More vs. Less is More.

Beyond Email Templates

The Email Newsletter Problem is that Newsletters today must transform into full Digital Publications. Digital newsletters carry enough information to become periodic and engaging digital magazine newsletters.

This means that a online newsletter has two parts beyond the work of content creation:

1) The email delivery email template, and

2) The full digital newsletter

And we certainly don’t mean downloading a PDF or some print replica flipping pages format that can’t even be easily read on a mobile device. We mean a full delivery of content from a premium newsletter editions platform meant for keeping the reader in a linear path through all the content just like a print newsletter publication or magazine.

Ok, it’s starting to make sense. So instead of cramming everything possible into any number of labeled email templates, we really want just a postcard style email template since the email has one purpose: To produce initial interest engagement and clickthrough.

Modern email newsletters must transform to full digital publications that don’t suck!

Illustration depicting a metaphor for going beyond the email template
Illustration depicting multiple choices for newsletter templates

Choices for Email Templates

Understanding the difference between the inbox template and then the full newsletter edition provided by a professional digital newsletter platform like VERTIQUL, here are some visual email template design concepts.

Visual Template Design – Featured image templates work for every industry or organizational newsletter publication. Visual email newsletter themes provide an opportunity to always leverage the featured content to draw subscribers into reading the full newsletter edition. Don’t give the full story inside the email template. We want to know who clicked and who didn’t.

Product Focused Marketing Emails – Even for association media, there’s a tremendous interest in products. Minimalist or even DIY projects all produce content in the form of a product where audience often engages. maybe it’s association, club, organizational, or corporate gear. People are interested in emails that give them items to buy or obtain as a benefit of involvement. Product based emails can launch a digital catalog publication. Perhaps highlighting an A/B testing approach with having a left right product option will help gain marketing intelligence or will fuel AI for segmented sends and interest profile of the email subscribers.

Association Email Design – Group, corporate and association templates often feature images of people in collaborative or activity based scenes. These emails contain the highest clickthrough rate because the credibility of the organizational emails and motivation by subscribers to participate and engage is highest among these subscribers.

Event and Conference Templates – Event templates are popular because a new theme or concept is required every year to keep members interested in registration.

All these templates have one thing in common – All these email templates have the primary goal of getting the reader to clickthrough to the premium digital edition newsletter. The monthly or weekly newsletter contains a snapshot of all the relevant content pertinent to the periodic nature of the newsletter publication. The full digital newsletter can then contain separate links to deeper conversion items such as registration of other audience experience path elements.

The best part of having a premium vertical & responsive digital editions email newsletter platform solution is the solutions include the email newsletter template designs or the fully completed html template within the package solution – ready for you to drop in place and hit send.

Expanded Premium Newsletter Revenue Capabilities

Newsletter publishing revenue ad strategy has typically focused on smaller banner and sponsored content headlines for traditional ‘inside the inbox’ email newsletters. While certain email templates can utilize this ad unit placement and still accommodate the primary modern newsletter strategy, we prefer to maximize overall ad revenue. The perception of advertising in the form of banner ads is intrusive and makes any email newsletter feel very commercial. However, the advantage of a full digital publication is that both business and consumer audiences accept the advertising editorial balance in formal publication formats.

While publishers must certainly consider costs of print layout and design production if the materials are to be printed and mailed, our suggestion for the right periodic frequency and branding from a digital perspective for mid to large corporate, niche, trade and organizational publishers is weekly newsletter and monthly magazine. Often as these media and publishing entities grow multiple email lists also increase for multi-list participation from audience. This can also become part of a transactional email or opt-in ongoing/daily notifications that all have the ability to reference the main weekly digital news and current monthly digital magazine.

A revenue strategy allows the association media or corporate publishing department to become a profit center. This is important because the media professionals that prepare and publish content often have other ideas for reaching audience they never even seek budget to perform. Having revenue in the department changes everything.

Illustration showing upward trending bar graph and stacked money
Illustration depicting characters watering ideas turning into revenue

Other Non-Advertising/Sponsor Revenue ROI Priorities

  • Membership Audience Development
  • New Membership Outreach
  • National Event Marketing
  • Local Event Marketing
  • Organizational Announcements
  • Community News
  • Non-profit initiatives
  • Donation, sponsorships and funding requests
  • Industry News
  • Legislative/Policy Advocacy Updates
  • Corporate Sponsor/Partner Awareness
  • Educational Programs

Executive leadership can begin to see that the front facing elements of the organization are all driven by the proper marketing communications. While new newsletter sponsorships and beyond banner advertising turn the newsletter into a profit center for the association, the time focus on adding these expanded digital newsletter publication content items means we’re on the path to getting our subscribers interest and ultimate audience engagement for our upgraded newsletters.

Upgrade the Newsletter Title Branding

  • Weekly Digital Newsletter Edition
  • Weekly ‘Organization Name’ Edition
  • Weekly‘Organization Branded Updated Name’ Newsletter
  • ‘Name of Month’ ‘Name of Publication’ Digital Edition
  • ‘Name of Month’ ‘Name of Publication’ Digital Magazine
  • ‘Name of Month’ ‘Name of Publication’ Digital Publication

As the value and content grows for the digital member publication, new opportunities exist for branding the communications.

It’s important to have weekly branded communications with audience. There are many strategies to maintain multiple opt-in lists so that members can choose the level of communications. We recommend that anything with greater than weekly send frequency be labeled in a manner that it’s could be unsubscribed yet the weekly newsletter and monthly magazine are always received. The company publications should be branded into key organization communications. It’s possible to even recap the weekly newsletter editions from a once a month communication and because the premium digital publications are all hosted and displayed, it’s easy to access a missed edition or issue.

A perfect mix is weekly digital newsletters and a monthly or quarterly digital publication.

Illustration depicting the upgrading of your brand with good design
Illustration depicting advertising and sponsor partnerships

Newsletter Advertising & Sponsors

The revenue maximization strategy includes newsletter sponsors. The display ads inside the email designed to produce conversion are just one part of the full digital email publication. The larger digital publication publishing purpose of the inbox email is to convert to the larger advertising opportunities inside the full editorially designed publication. A media kit can then be utilized for beyond banner ads to the corporate email or association media publishing effort.

To maximize the revenue, the content producing organization must move beyond thinking of this email design as an opportunity for typical email revenue placements. Often these units and functions are delegated to vendors like Naylor or Multiview who monetize the newsletter by selling existing media guide software directory participants. Salespeople direct email and call companies to make the newsletter ad placement and sometimes even design the ad creatives.

The content marketing process can be upgraded to become a digital magazine or premium digital edition which carries all the information and value of the low value email newsletter version. Many associations media kits are only designed for selling sponsors and ads in other association magazines, journals and other speciality publications. The weekly or monthly newsletter must be upgraded to become a key creative content delivery solution for the organization.

The thing about getting someones attention engagement is that it’s powerful enough to make everything else disappear into the background.

The email notification should get the reader out of the inbox and over to a fully immersive digital newsletter where full engagement with the content can occur.

A Modern Email Newsletter Solution

The Newsletter Premium Digital Editions

After confirming we have an inbox email template strategy to produce engagement, it’s time to get our audience to our premium digital newsletter publication platform. This means that the newsletter is not just template driven, but designed with the content and other periodical publishing elements included. This includes advertising, and content departments, letter from the editor or other key content delivery person that making a personal introduction every issue to the audience. Upgrading from basic templates means the organization, company, or association is delivery a complete digital publication to the audience every week or month. And the digital newsletter publication can be read on every device!

Illustration depicting a premium designed newsletter
Digital Newsletter Illustration

How This Publication Format Innovates Beyond Traditional Flip Editions

Traditional flip-book style digital publications built on flash or other page turn software or sliding page panels where a PDF generator processed the print files has never been a positive experience for mobile readers. Hot linking articles and thumbnails of pages plus all the player overhead of functions and sharing and instructions made print-replica digital editions a nightmare. And that’s before we learned how difficult it was to read content and saw our subscribers less than excited about each new issue. Many magazine publishers selected multi-channel publishing apps and tools. And then an entire range of new digital newsstands appeared promising more traffic.

The problem was the publisher was sending their audience t other 3rd party software tools and in some cases those vendors they started trying to monetize on the backs of the publisher. The VERTIQUL solution was launched as a publisher centric solution built on the publisher owned domain.

Here’s the founder of this innovative digital solution demonstrating how this new digital platform launched it’s first full clients in 2017 and has expanded to even include accessibility control tools required by educational publishers (alumni publications), as well as other newsletters, magazines, and journals.

Media Enhanced Newsletter

Enhanced images, video and podcasts included in the premium digital publications provide opportunities to communicate with your audience using channels and media they are adopting.

We hand design every newsletter digital publication every week. Content engagement is maximized.

Digital Newsletter Illustration

Audience Communication Value

How important is the email delivery digital publishing content marketing solution and viewability on every device for your organization or business?

Is the audience communication value worth a premium digital publication destination combined with the beautiful edition notification emails? Would you like to upgrade the email newsletter to a professional newsletter editions digital platform? The path to upgrade to a vertical, responsive and scrollable UX for unlimited newsletter editions publications using a turnkey solution is actually very easy.

Our team utilized our own premium digital publications platform for all digital publication productions: VERTIQUL by Advontemedia.

Additional Help: Review My Current Newsletter

Not sure of how these premium solutions fit your publishing model? Forward a copy of your current email newsletter templates and we will make specific recommendation for how we intend to upgrade these emails into full digital publications.

[email protected]

You’ll receive a ticket tracking ID for our correspondence and replies.

Then use this form to advise you have sent a newsletter to review.

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*Compatible with all email delivery platforms and is a completely hosted full service digital newsletter design service based solution.